Tribes, revolution, and INGOs : toward better social science measurement
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This dissertation advances a call for improving measurement in the social science studies of political phenomena with three article-length stud- ies. Study 1 unearths historical, qualitative evidence of an overlooked and under-explored social group, namely tribes in the Tunisian revolution. It highlights the durability and socio-economic survival strategies of tribes despite decades of eradication strategies by sitting governments, as well as their political re-emergence and mobilization at key historical junctures. The Tunisian revolution of 2010-2011 is one such juncture, for which I pro- vide qualitative evidence of the effects of tribal mobilization on the start of the revolution. Study 2 builds upon this evidence of tribal survival and mobilization by testing, in a quantitative model of protest and violence, a measure for the Hamama tribe against baseline explanations including Islamists, Unions, Youth and other Economic, Demographic, and Social Me- dia factors. It also considers evidence for the role of momentum, parsing out the ways that protest and violent government repression can interact to fuel or suppress each other. Findings support both the early role of tribal mobilization as well as the cyclical dynamic of the dissent-repression nexus. The key to this chapter is the utilization of new measures of tribes, protest, and violence. Finally, Study 3 applies these measurement principles to an existing and widely-used measure of country memberships in International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs). In cross-national, quantitative perspective, this chapter diagnoses and corrects the problem of erroneously low or zero membership counts for new countries. These errors are most problematic in the context of Eastern Europe and have a strong likelihood of affecting statistical findings in many cross-national studies. Two com- mon threads are woven throughout all three studies. The first is the asser- tion that careful attention to measurement has the potential to substantially revise existing social science theories and findings. The second is that poor measurement of social science concepts in developing countries may hin- der understanding of a variety of phenomena in other parts of the world. Accordingly, each chapter addresses a particular omission or error in the ex- isting literature, suggesting a regionally nuanced approach including new data, new methods, or new measures.